Skip to content ↓
Priory Woods School & Arts College

Priory Woods School & Arts College A Special Place to Learn

Physical Intervention Policy 2015 2016

Physical Intervention Policy (Review Autumn 2016)1.   Introduction

This policy provides a framework for the use of Physical Intervention at Priory Woods School and guidance on dealing with challenging behaviour. The policy takes into account information provided in:

Circular 10/98 (Section 550A of the Education Act 1996)

DFES “Guidance on the Use of Restrictive Physical Interventions for Staff Working with Children and Adults who Display Extreme Behaviour in Association with Learning Disability and / or Autistic Spectrum Disorders”.

The school has trained tutors in the Team Teach method; aims and guidelines central to this approach are incorporated within the policy. Central to this policy is the understanding that any physical intervention used by staff must be in accord with the idea of “Reasonable Force” and used only as a last resort once all other strategies have been exhausted. There is no legal definition of reasonable force. The use of force can only be regarded as reasonable if the circumstances of the particular incident warrant it and the degree of force employed is proportionate to the level of challenging behaviour presented or the consequences it is intended to prevent.

It is essential that any discussion of physical intervention is set in the wider context of education and behaviour management (see Priory Woods School Behaviour Policy); it should not be seen as an isolated technique. 95% of the time there will be no need for physical intervention and other methods can be used.

The Legal Context

The document that concerns us most is Section 550A of the Education Act 1996. This led to Circular 10/98, which sets out guidelines for the use of reasonable force.

A calm considered approach to the situation is needed. When circumstances justify, staff can:

  • Physically interpose between pupils.
  • Use Holding, Pushing, Pulling
  • Lead a pupil by the arm
  • Shepherd a pupil away by placing a hand in the centre of the back
  • (In extreme circumstances) use more restrictive holds.
  • Any necessary action consistent with concept of “reasonable force”.
  • Types of incident where the use of reasonable force may be necessary fall into 3 broad categories:

1)   Action due to imminent risk of injury

2)   Action due to developing risk of injury or significant damage to property

3)   Action where a pupil is behaving in a way that is compromising good order and discipline.

Examples of 1 & 2

  • A pupil attacks a member of staff or another pupil.
  • A pupil is engaged in or on the verge of starting to damage property.
  • A pupil is running up and down a corridor in a way that could cause injury
  • A pupil is absconding (NB this only applies if the child is at risk if they leave the room / building).

Examples of 3

  • A pupil persistently refuses to leave the room
  • A pupil is behaving in a way that is seriously disrupting the lesson.

1.   Accepted Physical Interventions

Listed below are the accepted Team Teach strategies that have been taught to staff.

A range of personal safety responses to deal with:

Clothing & Hair grabs                           Body holds

Arm & Neck holds                                Clothing, hair & Bites

A range of guides, escorts and restraints ranging from least intrusive too most intrusive.

These provide a graded and gradual response aimed at intervening with the appropriate amount of reasonable force. Restraints where 2 people are used will be deemed as a more restrictive hold. As the amount of restriction /number of people increases so does the risk; staff need to make a risk assessment based on the situation as to the level at which they are going to intervene.

Table 1 – Graded Reponses to Physical Intervention

Increase in level of intrusion

1 Person Standing / Walking

Friendly Hold

Single Elbow

Figure of Four

Wrap  Double Elbow Shield


Associated increase in the level of risk

2 Person Standing / Walking

Friendly Hold

Single Elbow

Figure of Four

Wrap    Double Elbow   Shield


1 Person to Chairs

Friendly Hold

Single Elbow

Figure of Four

Wrap    Double Elbow   Shield


2 Person to Chairs

Friendly Hold

Single Elbow

Figure of Four

Wrap   Double Elbow   Shield


1 Person to Ground Recovery

Friendly Hold

Single Elbow

Figure of Four

Wrap   Double Elbow  


2 Person to Ground Recovery

Friendly Hold

Single Elbow

Figure of Four

Wrap   Double Elbow  



NB. Ground Recovery holds are the most restrictive and carry the highest risk. Staff are not taught floor holds and are encouraged to avoid going to ground wherever possible. If a pupil goes to ground then staff should withdraw and secure the environment as far as possible.

The theory and rationale behind the Team Teach approach as well as an understanding of personal space and body language is introduced before any physical techniques are taught.

Any physical interventions used will need to take account of age, cultural background, gender, stature and medical history of the student involved.

4.   Placing Physical Intervention in Context

Physical Intervention is never seen in isolation at Priory Woods School. It is but one strategy available to staff and should always be seen as a last resort when all other strategies have failed. Physical interventions can be placed in

2 broad categories:

Emergency Interventions

Emergency interventions will involve staff employing, where necessary, one or a combination of the strategies mentioned in the previous section in response to an incident. This will occur when all other strategies have been exhausted or the incident requires a rapid physical response (for example a child running on to a road).

Planned Interventions

Planned interventions involve staff employing, where necessary, one or a combination of the strategies mentioned in the previous section as an agreed response to an identified behaviour. This will be documented in a Positive Handling Plan and will be reviewed regularly. Permission of parents /guardians will be sought before initiating this as an accepted response. The Positive Handling Plan will list the accepted strategies to be used as well as strategies that may be used before hand. A generic risk assessment identifies the risks involved in planned physical interventions as well as the risks involved if a planned Physical Intervention is not used.

  • Physical Intervention should be seen in the whole context of behaviour management as detailed in Priory Woods Behaviour Policy. Staff should always make it clear that it is the behaviour that is disapproved of, not the child; behaviours are sometimes bad, children are not.
  • Often non-aversive techniques are more effective. Some examples of these are:-
  • Distracting, diverting or redirecting the child
  • Ignoring the behaviour
  • Discovering the cause of the behaviour and removing it
  • Teaching an alternative behaviour or skill which achieves the same function as the problem behaviour e.g. teaching a child to communicate their desire for an activity to stop rather than upturning table
  • Re-inforcing acceptable behaviour(s) that are incompatible with the problem behaviour e.g. teach stroking to replace smacking
  • There are occasions when it may be necessary to remove a pupil from the stimulus or environment s/he is in, either as part of a planned intervention or to maintain order and ensure the safety of the pupil and those around him or her. The soft play room in lower school, small group rooms in upper school and Post 16 and the KS2 fenced playground area have been risk assessed as suitable areas. Priority access to these areas has been agreed with staff.

5. Risk Assessment

In the case of emergency interventions staff will make a risk assessment at the time comparing the risks associated with intervention against the risks of not intervening. Following an emergency intervention staff involved will be debriefed by the Head Teacher or Deputy and Team Teach tutor(s), further action taken as appropriate to the situation.

6. Reporting and Monitoring of Incidents

Reporting and monitoring is of paramount importance for a number of reasons:

  • Protection for staff and pupils
  • Keeps a record of number and detail of incidents so the data can be analysed

Recording and reporting at Priory Woods School is detailed in Table 2.

7. Training and Authorisation of Staff

All teachers and teaching assistants are required to complete a 12 hr Team Teach Foundation Course as part of their induction training. Care assistants are expected to attend a 6hr Team Teach Basic Course. All staff are required to maintain their qualification by attending regular Team Teach refresher training. All staff who have satisfactorily completed Team Teach training are authorised to use Physical Intervention. A list of staff that have completed this training is held by the Team Teach tutor.

 Physical Intervention requires a degree of strength and authorised staff should seek immediate support if the pupil requiring restraint is bigger and stronger than they are.

The school acknowledges that physical intervention may result in some level of discomfort or pain and that injury may occur; this will not be considered malpractice.

8. Post Physical Intervention Procedures

As soon as is reasonably possible after an incident staff need to fill out an Incident Form and the Incident Log (minimum within 24hrs). The form should be given to the head/lead team tutor who will provide a de – brief for the staff and check their welfare. When both the staff member and child involved are calm then a de – brief needs to take place between them. This should include (if appropriate) a discussion about strategies that the child could use in the future.

Completed forms are kept in the head teacher’s office and are monitored by the lead Team Teach tutor who reports the findings to governors.

9. The Use of a Secure Environment

Priory Woods School has a duty of care to staff and students. To ensure the safety of everyone there may be circumstances when it is necessary to place a young person in a safe, secure environment e.g. the group room in Post 16 or upper school.  The door would be secured from the outside and a member of staff would remain outside to monitor the young person.

Such circumstances would involve threatening and violent behaviour to staff and/or pupils. In such cases the following guidance must be followed:

Except in extreme emergencies the use of a secure environment should be part of a broader behaviour management strategy and detailed in a pupil’s Positive Handling  Plan (PHP). The parent is asked to sign this plan and given the opportunity to come into school and view the room and thumb lock used to secure the door.

A secure environment should only be used in exceptional circumstances and when all other strategies have failed.

The young person must be kept under constant observation.

The date, time and duration of the incident must be logged and parents/guardians informed as soon as possible after the event.

There should be a review and debrief, for both staff and pupil, following the use of a secure environment.

Staff are aware that such instances MUST be deemed as absolutely necessary as seclusion requires statutory powers other than in an emergency and that is associated with elevated levels of risk.

The use of a secure environment takes into account ‘The Children Act 1989 ‘ The welfare of the child shall be the paramount consideration’

Human Rights Act 2005 – detailing that if access is limited it must be shown to be absolutely necessary.

10. BILD Code of Practise

 The BILD Code of practise should always be followed.

  • Minimum force for the shortest time
  • Prevent injury, pain and distress
  • Maintain Dignity
  • Reasonable and Proportionate
  • Action should be necessary